Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Amusement of Convergence Culture

     After spending this final semester in RTV4403 Media Criticism at Florida State College of Jacksonville, it has been rather interesting to read the differing views of Neil Postman and Henry Jenkins. While both authors wrote on the impact of technology or media in our society, their overall outlooks immensely oppose one another. Postman uses Amusing Ourselves to Death to warn of the imminent doom that would follow the invention and use of television. Contrastingly, Jenkins uses Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide to promote and encourage the use of new media and developing technologies.

     Undoubtedly, both authors recognize a shift in society and culture due to media and the medium through which it flows. Postman takes time to acknowledge how the culture of Hollywood directly impacted the use of television. He writes, "...a significant point since almost all television programs are embedded in music, which helps to tell the audience what emotions are to be called forth. This is a standard theatrical device, and its absence on television is always ominous" (p.88). Jenkins supports and proves this when he quotes Coca-Cola president Steven J. Heyer's statement, "We will use a diverse array of entertainment assets to break into people's hearts and minds. In that order....We're moving to ideas that elicit emotion and create connections" (p.69). While Postman views this from a deceptive perspective, Jenkins perceives an important relationship amid viewers and producers that needs refinement in order to develop.

     Media is quite powerful, whether it is viewed in a positive or negative light. I hold to my belief that media is content that is shaped by social concept. Media has the ability to transform and conform as society sees fit. Media is an outcome of creative production, as well as a system of communication and a fourth estate. It can be electronically produced and created on a good, old-fashioned type writer. Overall, I believe that the expansion of media is only as limited as those who have some form of control over it, whether creation, production, viewing or its spread.

     The options that convergence presents are not to be taken lightly. They should be explored and developed. We should take hold of knowledge communities and mind the amount of "quiet space" we need to develop deep thought. There is nothing wrong with formulating an opinion, but we must be open to the information available and the differing thoughts of others. Everyone will never agree on every thing, but it is interesting to see how minds develop thoughts and ideas that differ from our own. This is why convergence and media can be as dangerous as Postman feared, while as fascinating as Jenkins declared.

   For this reason, I do not want to limit myself as a practitioner of converged communications. Whether blogging, marketing, broadcasting or working in positions that have yet to be formed, I want to remain a student willing to learn, apply and teach others to do the same. This program has helped me see that I am a writer; a fact that I never would have accepted before nor would have I pursued it as a career. Yet, I better understand its importance and now embrace the adventure which will follow. I anticipate communicating with future target audiences as a teacher--not necessarily as a career, but as a lifestyle. To teach the balance between ideas like Postman and Jenkins; to help develop minds to think critically; to encourage the application and limitless possibilities that converged communications offers.

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